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May 5, 2000

Transaction Analysis

May 1-3, 2000

by Christina Kahrl

ANAHEIM ANGELS

Purchased the contract of RHP Eric Weaver from Edmonton; designated IF Keith Johnson for assignment. [5/2]

Having Eric Weaver around gives Mike Scioscia the option to use a right-hander as the fifth starter instead of automatically going with Kent Mercker, at least notionally. The expectation that Tim Belcher isn't too far from being activated means it's hardly a major issue.

BALTIMORE ORIOLES

Placed 1B Will Clark on the 15-day DL (strained hamstring); recalled 3B Ryan Minor from Rochester; waived RHP Tim Worrell to give him his unconditional release. [5/3]

Only the Orioles can stage-manage this kind of thing. They could use Calvin Pickering for his left-handed sock, and Pickering really ought to be their first baseman of the immediate future. Instead, they're impressed with Ryan Minor's hot start, so they have a right-handed bat to back up right-handed-hitting Jeff Conine at first base and right-handed-hitting Cal Ripken at third base. Because they're busy pretending they're contending, the Orioles refuse to help themselves by calling up the better player, and instead call up one of Syd Thrift's goofier projects.

CHICAGO CUBS

Activated RHP Kerry Wood from the DL; optioned OF Roosevelt Brown to Iowa. [5/2]

I feel sort of bad, seeing that my November prediction that Kerry Wood would be pitching for the Cubs by May Day was off by 24 hours. I'll blame the fact that Monday was an off day.

At any rate, it's sad to see Rosie Brown go down, but he's stymied by the Cubs' belief that they're going to compete with Wood and Ismael Valdes back. Once they notice that they're still a bad offensive and defensive club, they may get around to trading Henry Rodriguez (to the Yankees?) so that Brown can play.

What's really goofy about sending Brown down is that it means the Cubs are temporarily carrying four left-handed relievers (Mark Guthrie, Felix Heredia, Andrew Lorraine and Daniel Garibay), while shorting themselves of left-handed pinch-hitters. They have Jeff Reed and Willie Greene, each of whom are getting more and more playing time as Shane Andrews's wrist and Joe Girardi's bat create opportunities for them, and let's not forget the immortal Jeff Huson.

Meanwhile, they still need a center fielder to play in front of Damon Buford, and while the "Draft Corey Patterson" drive is on, the Cubs are wisely anticipating that they might almost be in the run for fourth place, and you wouldn't want to rush the kid into that kind of pressure.

COLORADO ROCKIES

Activated C Scott Servais from the DL; optioned C Ben Petrick to Colorado Springs. [5/3]

Darn kid pasted the ball far too well to keep him around. While Ben Petrick's glovework is still catching flak, the alternative is Scott Servais, whose best days behind the plate are long gone, and defense is supposed to have been his calling card, once upon a time.

DETROIT TIGERS

Purchased the contract of 2B/OF Jose Macias from Toledo; optioned RHP Dave Borkowski to Toledo. [5/3]

Jose Macias is a switch-hitter who can stand around all over the place, so he'll get to fill in here and there while the Tigers sort through their various suspensions. Hey, just like Gregg Jefferies. At 26, he's not a prospect, and he doesn't have any offensive skills of note.

Even without the suspensions, the Tigers could easily afford to go back to 11 pitchers after deciding that they'd rather let Rule 5 pick Mark Johnson start than Dave Borkowski, not to mention Air Blair. Whatever happened to Blair's vaunted secret pitch that he was supposed to be developing over the winter, anyway?

MILWAUKEE BREWERS

Activated C Henry Blanco from the DL; designated C Raul Casanova for assignment. [5/2]

Recalled LHP Horacio Estrada from Indianapolis; optioned LHP Ray King to Indianapolis; returned LHP Matt Williams to the Yankees. [5/3]

Horacio Estrada not only came up and got a start, but like Everett Stull before him he bushwhacked his first opponent and put up a quality start. I expect him to be a reasonably useful fifth starter, unlike Stull; he hasn't had major arm problems before (he lost most of 1998 to a broken hand) and he has command of three pitches.

They should not have sent down Ray King; he's a better situational left-hander than Valerio De Los Santos, but Jim Bruske is being retained as a spare mop-up man on Davey Lopes's whim. As long as they were cutting bait with Jaime Navarro, they could have bought themselves back some more roster space by getting rid of Sean Berry as well.

Not that we should expect Henry Blanco to be mistaken for Mike Piazza, but Papo Casanova's return to the major leagues only left everyone convinced he can't outplay Tyler Houston, which is about as low as you can go and still be in the major leagues.

MONTREAL EXPOS

Recalled RHP Jeremy Powell from Ottawa; optioned 1B Andy Tracy to Ottawa. [5/1]

Recalled RHP Mike Johnson from Ottawa; purchased the contract of RHP Felipe Lira from Ottawa; optioned RHPs Jeremy Powell and Brad Rigby to Ottawa; transferred LHP Graeme Lloyd from the 15- to the 60-day DL. [5/3]

Because of happy scheduling, the Expos won't need to use a fifth starter again until the weekend of May 12, which means they can sort through who they want to have around as their mop-up man for nearly ten days. Will it be ex-Rule 5 tater-tosser Mike Johnson, famed for his nifty curveball? Will it be grizzled ex-Tiger Felipe Lira, still spoiling for another shot in a major-league rotation? Or will Brad Rigby earn a second chance in lovely Ottawa? The answer won't come for more than a week, but I'm sure we'll all be glued to our seats waiting to find out who wins. Keep in mind, there will only be one winner: either Jeremy Powell or Mike Thurman will be coming back up by the 12th.

Interesting to note that Felipe Alou appreciated having slugger Andy Tracy around. Considering Alou has a roster with three utility infielders and no worthwhile fourth outfielder, he ought to be able to make space to keep Tracy.

NEW YORK METS

Optioned C Vance Wilson to Norfolk; recalled LHP Bill Pulsipher from Norfolk. [5/1]

No shockers here, from Vance Wilson's return once Mike Piazza turned out to be OK to Bill Pulsipher's bad outing. Dennis Springer might be a decent fifth starter for only a few teams, but that's still a step up from Pulsipher.

NEW YORK YANKEES

Reclaimed Rule 5 pick Matt Williams on waivers from the Brewers. [5/3]

PITTSBURGH PIRATES

Activated RHP Jason Schmidt from the DL; optioned RHP Brad Clontz to Nashville. [5/2]

Jason Schmidt's return isn't going to mean all that much for the Bucs' push for respectability. The offense is badly broken, and the attempted "repairs" are only making it worse. The danger is that if Gene Lamont was desperate enough to leave Schmidt out too long earlier in the season, he may be even more so from here on out.

Brad Clontz loses out after being uncharacteristically wild, with Jose Parra getting his spot in the bullpen.

ST. LOUIS CARDINALS

Placed 3B Fernando Tatis on the 15-day DL (pulled groin); recalled 1B/OF Larry Sutton from Memphis. [5/2]

Signed 2B Fernando Vina to a three-year contract with a club option for 2004. [5/3]

Losing Fernando Tatis hurts the Cardinals about as badly as any injury could. Cult-hero status aside, Craig Paquette is not a good offensive regular. With just about everyone on the team not named Ray Lankford due for some cooling off, it isn't hard to envision the next month being one in which the Cards lose a chunk of their early lead.

Congratulations to Fernando Vina. Next winter, when the Cardinals claim they lost money and will continue to lose money, hopefully someone will ask them why they gave a multi-year contract to an injury-prone 31-year-old with one good offensive season to his credit. At least by Tony Womack standards, it's a good deal for the Cards. Vina has a good glove, and he's had a good five weeks at the plate. The question about his ability to recreate his great 1998 is whether he can stay healthy.

SAN DIEGO PADRES

Recalled RHP Buddy Carlyle from Las Vegas; optioned RHP Wil Cunnane to Las Vegas. [5/1]

Buddy Carlyle is coming up to take Woody Williams's place in the rotation. Caryle will have to be monitored closely after being overworked in 1999: as a 21-year-old, he started 32 games and pitched almost 200 innings.

What's silly about this is that Wil Cunnane didn't deserve to go down this time any more than he has in years past. For whatever reason, Kevin Towers is convinced that he has to have Vicente Palacios around, as if the graybearded Mexican League veteran wouldn't make it through waivers after his recent shellackings. The next few weeks may be the bad stretch that breaks up the logjam that has held up so many rumored Padre deals

TEXAS RANGERS

Signed DH Ruben Sierra and LHP Tony Mounce to minor-league contracts. [5/1]

If you're desperate for switch-hitting power, there's rarely a more gutless or dim-witted move than trying to resurrect the Bad Bald One, Ruben Sierra. There hasn't been a point during the last five years at which signing Sierra made any sense. But the Latin fraternity buzzes about a nice day he had over the winter, or how it's neat that he had a good start in the Mexican Leagues, and another GM gets gulled into wasting his time.

The silliness has even more elements to it: Sierra will have to be added to the 40-man roster if he's called up, which potentially costs the Rangers a baseball player. Considering they could just as easily add Pedro Valdes to the roster, and in doing so add a better hitter as well as someone who can play an outfield corner, you'd hope they'd be smart about this. So the mistake is made, and nothing more than willful stupidity will get Sierra onto the 40-man roster, because nothing he does in Oklahoma is going to get him on the roster on the basis of merit.

At least signing Tony Mounce is a decent move. After flopping as a starter in the Astros' chain, Mounce is exactly the kind of curveballing left-hander who might end up being a pretty handy specialist.

TORONTO BLUE JAYS

Placed LF Shannon Stewart on the 15-day DL, retroactive to 4/29 (pulled hamstring), recalled OF Andy Thompson from Syracuse. [5/1]

Shannon Stewart really hasn't been playing for the last couple of weeks, so it was about time the Jays finally put him on the DL. In his absence, Jose Cruz Jr. has gotten first dibs on the leadoff job, but hasn't really done much with it.

Andy Thompson will get to platoon with Brad Fullmer as well as spot-start in left field for Marty Cordova. Given Cordova's limitations as a hitter and fielder, this is a great opportunity for Thompson to impress Jim Fregosi.

Christina Kahrl is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Christina's other articles. You can contact Christina by clicking here

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